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Photo: Historic moment: Wests Tigers lock Bodene Thompson takes the ball up in the loss to Cronulla Sharks. It was the first time Wests Tigers have fielded a NSW Cup team. PHOTO: Wayne Cousins

Wests Tigers suffered a 36-16 loss to Cronulla Sharks at Sharks Stadium today in the opening round of the NSW Cup competition.

It was a historic occasion for Wests Tigers who were fielding a NSW Cup side for the first time in the competition. Captain Sean Meaney had the honour of leading the Paul Fletcher coached team onto the field.

A minutes silence was observed before kick-off in remembrance of Wests Tigers prop Mosese Fotuaika following his funeral last Thursday.

Wests Tigers opened the scoring in the fifth minute when prop Michael Bullock ran onto a short ball to score next to the posts. Captain and five-eighth Sean Meaney converted the try for a 6-0 lead.

A play down the right side saw centre Rory Brien step inside to score next to the posts for a 10-0 lead after 24 minutes. Meaney failed to convert the try from close range.

Wests Tigers lock Bodene Thompson was cautioned after knocking out half Chad Towsend following a fight from a tackle.

A knock on from second-rower Jarrod Farlow from a Brett Finch grubber kick gave the Sharks a scrum win inside Wests Tigers quarter. Cronulla lock Tyrone Peachey strolled over for a soft try under the posts from the scrum win. Townsend converted the try to leave Cronulla trailing 10-6 after 34 minutes.

Cronulla drew level in the 37th minute when second-rower Maurice Blair scored out wide. Townsend converted to give the Sharks a 12-10 lead at half-time.

2nd Half

Cronulla went to a 16-10 lead in the 38th minute when winger Young Tonumaipea dived over in the corner after the ball was spread right through several sets of hands following a repeat set of six after winger Taqele Naiyaravoro dropped a short crossfield kick.

Townsend converted for an 18-10 lead to Cronulla.

Two minutes later, Cronulla went to a 22-10 lead when a break down the left side saw Blair grab his second try. Townsend converted the try from the sideline for a 24-10 lead after 52 minutes.

Wests Tigers got back to 24-14 when second-rower Jarrod Farlow scored off his own charge down kick. Meaney converted the try to leave Wests Tigers trailing 24-16 after 60 minutes.

A one on one steal by Peachey on full-back James Tedesco saw the lock race 70 metres to score near the posts despite a gallant chase by Meaney. Townsend converted the try for a 30-16 lead after 65 minutes.

The Sharks scored inside the final minute when Ben Hampton raced 60 metres to score untouched under the posts after fielding a Meaney chip kick. Townsend converted the try for the 36-16 victory.

Wests Tigers: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 3 Tim Simona, 4 Rory Brien, 5 Asipeli Fine 6 Sean Meaney (c) 7 Jack Madden, 8 Michael Bullock, 13 Joel Luani, 10 Ava Seumanufagai, 11 Jared Farlow, 12 Sauaso Sue, 16 Bodene Thompson; interchange: 9 Masada Iosefa, 14 Sean Spence, 15 Sitaleki Akaula, 23 David Harris.


Sharks team

1 Nathan Gardner, 2 Nathan Stapleton, 3 Stewart Mills, 4 Kirisome Auvaa, 5 Young Tonumaipae, 6 Brett Finch, 22 Chad Townsend, 8 Sam Tagataese, 9 Pat Politoni, 10 Jordan McClean, 11 Maurice Blair, 12 Tupou Sopoaga, 13 Tyrone Peachey; interchange 14 Tim Robinson, 15 Sosaia Feki, 16 Ben Hampton, 20 Mark Toufa